Today, I woke up later than usual, cleaned my neglected kitchen and ate some leftover broccoli soup. By the time I looked up it was 2 pm. Whoa. I had literally dreamt about making caramel popcorn for a few hours at that point. Originally, about 2 weeks ago my brother mentioned popcorn balls and I decided I wanted to make a few. Then it turned into beer orange peel caramel popcorn balls.. and then just caramel popcorn with maybe some chocolate chips? Pecans? BOTH?! So at around 3 pm I got to work on some caramel popcorn. That’s when things went terribly wrong, but in the end I came out with a beautiful and perfect result after the heartbreak of having a terrible batch that was supposed to be awesome. Oh, and my washing machine broke.
For the caramel sauce :
- 1 c. packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk, chilled
- 4 TBSP Earth Balance
- pinch of salt
- 1 TBSP vanilla extract
For the Popcorn :
I used microwave popcorn but after my first batch failed I had to do some investigating. I found that buying a bag of kernels and doing the paper bag method is the best way to get the best popcorn. Here is what I am talking about :
Pop as much popcorn as you want. If this is for a party, or you’re giving it as gifts, make a ton and make a few batches of the caramel sauce. Make more sauce than you think you will need, and if you have leftovers eat it with some apple pie or some raw apples! This stuff is awesome. My recipe for orange peel beer caramel turned out amazing and flavorful, but unfortunately, it was too heavy of a caramel for the popcorn. It melted the popcorn instead of coating it. I do recommend making it as a drizzle sauce for other sweets. It is a heavier more rich sauce. You’ll see a recipe below. But let’s get on with the rest of the recipe :
To Make Caramel Popcorn :
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Once your caramel has cooled, Pop your pop corn and pour it into a bowl, I recommend doing this one bag at a time so you can successfully get all of the kernels out that aren’t popped. Place your popcorn in a bowl and tap it against the counter a few times so all of the undesirable kernels fall to the bottom. Gently transfer your popcorn to a different bowl with your hands, grabbing a little at a time. Your unpopped kernels should remain in the bottom of the first bowl to be thrown away. Steadily pour a stream of caramel sauce over the popcorn as you carefully toss it around, Now is the time to add any other things such as pecans or almonds, cashews, etc. Although, if you wish to add chocolate, wait until the last 15 minutes so it will not over cook. Once coated evenly, place on a non-stick or well greased cookie sheet and place in the oven. Set a timer for 15 minutes, take out of the oven and stir around and place back in the oven. Total cooking time is 1 hour, making sure to stir it every 15 minutes. When the hour is up, spread the popcorn on a piece of wax paper to cool, then place in a desired air tight container.
Orange Caramel :
- 1 12-ounce bottle beer
- 4 tsp cardamom
- zest of 1/2 orange, in large strips
- 2 TBSP Earth Balance
- 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk, chilled
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch of sea salt
Bring the beer, cardamom and orange zest to a gentle boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Add the Earth Balance and brown sugar. Cook, stirring only if the mixture looks like it might boil over, until thick and syrupy, about 10 to 12 minutes. To test for doneness, drop a bit of caramel into a bowl of cold water. It should form a soft ball. If not, keep cooking, but make sure not to burn. Slowly stir in the coconut milk and cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Remove the orange zest with a spoon. Let the caramel cool slightly, then transfer to a bowl or jar.
The best part about this sauce is that it will keep in the fridge for more than 1 week up to 2 weeks.